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S:t Mary

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The Church of St. Mary in Helsingborg has a long history. In its foundation it was finished in 1410. The church is, like its counterpart in Elsinore, built in Gothic style and contains a number of art treasures – many from the Middle Ages.

The Church of St. Mary
The late medieval church is situated right in the centre of the old Helsingborg. In the Helsingborg of the 21th century it is not a dominating part of the town picture and can hardly be seen from the sea. It is actually a little difficult to see, but when you are standing in front of it, you have to admire the beauty of the thorough Gothic gilding style. If you go inside a great deal of Helsingborg´s late medieval church culture´s interior is preserved.
The Eastern Facade of the Church of St. Mary
The Eastern Facade of the Church of St. Mary

Gothic
The St. Mary Church was finished in 1410 after a long building period of about 100 years. It is built as a basilica and is almost a cathedral. The mid aisle is, like the great Gothic cathedrals in Europe, low and has no windows under the vault. The building style is often called half basilica or ”pseudo basilica”. The same characteristics can be seen on the other side of the Sound, where the Mary Church in Elsinore has the same architectural traits.
The Gothic characteristics are prominent, the pointed arched windows and the pointed vaults. This also can be seen in the gable doorsteps of the exterior and the external buttresses, which support the church.
The church replaced an earlier Roman sandstone church from the 12th century. And in comparison to the small houses of the time, it became a striking and dominant building in Helsingborg. There were other churches in town, but only Kärnan and the Nicolai Monastery were able to compete with the dominant St. Mary Church.
The Western Front of the Church of Saint Mary
The Western Front of the Church of Saint Mary
The Buttresses of the St. Mary Church
The Buttresses of the St. Mary Church
The Vault of the Church of Saint Mary
The Vault of the Church of Saint Mary
Helsingborg in the Year 1400
Helsingborg in the Year 1400

The Art Treasures of the Middle Ages
The font is from the 14th century and cut from Gotland limestone. Originally it was painted and scientific examinations point towards fragments of red and blue oil paint.
The altarpiece is in remarkable good condition. It is painted around the time of the church´s inauguration in the period 1449-1452. Probably by a master from Stralsund. In the centre of the piece the scene with Mary and the newborn Jesus dominates. The motifs around are from the life of Christ as it is described in the New Testament.
The altarpiece, which is designed as some sort of cupboard can be closed at certain periods in the church year. During Lent, for example. Here the viewer must do without the sculptures and contents himself with looking on the motifs from Christ´s last days. One of these scenes shows how Jesus drives the merchants from the temple. An interesting detail here is that the appearance of some of the coins in this motif can be located in Stralsund. One detail which makes it probable that the altarpiece have been made n this town.
The triumph crucifix in Gothic style is from the latest Middle Ages. It is interesting that the foot of the cross says 1753. But it only states the time when the crucifix was repainted/restored. This is further complicated by the fact that the cross itself is of a later date that the crucifix. The originator of the crucifix is unknown, but experts assume that it is made in the southern part of Scandinavia.
The original plaster, which covered the church walls has later been removed. The walls now appear as brick walls. However, there are still remnants of the old plaster behind the altar, where there are still fragments of the old murals. Among them the saints: S:t Magnus and Brandanus. The murals are from the 15th century and are done by the so-called: Helsingborgmester, (Helsingborgmaster), whose somewhat better preserved murals can be seen in Brunnby Church in the Kulla peninsula.
From the Middle Ages are also the so-called piscinan at the bottom in the choir wall.
The Altarpiece of the Church of Saint Mary
The Altarpiece of the Church of Saint Mary
The closed altar cabinet
The closed altar cabinet
The merchants are driven from the temple
The merchants are driven from the temple
St. Mary´s Church´s Crucifix
St. Mary´s Church´s Crucifix
The Font of the Church of St. Mary
The Font of the Church of St. Mary
The Mural of the Church of St. Mary
The Mural of the Church of St. Mary
The Picscina of the Church of St. Mary
The Picscina of the Church of St. Mary

A New Day Dawning
The tower was not finished before 1500. I.e. by the beginning of the century which was not only to change the church organisation and dogmatism in the North, but also the Middle Ages as it was later called.
However, the medieval origin of St. Mary Church is still very pronounced. Despite the later modernizations with pulpit, organ and rows of benches. The church is, rightfully so, characterized as an example of what the Middle Ages can display when it comes to stylish architecture, capable constructions and amazing craftsmanship.

Good Deeds
The altarpiece has a double portrait and three pictures above each other on the left side. The portrait shows a noble couple, perhaps the vassal of Helsingborg´s castle, Arild Urup and his wife Thale Thott. Their gold chains can identify them, which symbolize noble wealth and power.
The motif is, like in the dining hall in the Our Lady monastery in Elsinore, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The poor beggar Lazarus will get his reward in Heaven, while the rich man is tormented in Hell.The subtext says:
You Christians, whom God have given enough, consider the poor, who suffer grief, sickness, misery and distress, poverty and hunger for bread, with something in this collection box. Show your faith with good deeds and God in his Heaven will look agreeably upon you.
The old notion that God looks agreeably on good deeds seems to have outlived the reformation.
Nobel couple
Nobel couple

Sickness and Health
Epidemics were well-known since the black death in the middle of the 14th century, but in the latter half of the 16th century Elsinore was struck 13 times. It has been established that more or less local epidemics took place every other year. It was different forms of the plague, but also typhoid fever, cholera and children´s diseases took many lives. The priest and writer in Elsinore, Hans Christensen Sthen, wrote a comfort script after having lost eight children in one of the epidemics.
Tycho Brahe lost in 1576 a two-year-old daughter, after which he put up this plaque in the Mary Church in Helsingborg with this inscription:
Kirstine led, when she went away, her tender dust here.
She, who was once Tycho Brahe´s daughter.
She was just an insignificant inhabitant of this world.
But in that short time, she grew considerably. In spiritual goodness, she exceeded her gender, in good deeds her young age, in eloquence her contemporaries.
This is why nature has taken her back
So that she would not exceed the boundaries of the standards.
But still she lives; she has defeated the resistance of nature.
Instead of the short time, she now owns the period of eternity.
And improved by the Heavenly Good she rejects the Mortal,
as she through Christ have been admitted to Heaven.
Died in the Plague on September 24th
in 1576, lived for 2 years and 11 months, 11 days and 11 hours.
Death
The sooner the more dear
The later the bitterer
To Kirstine my beloved daughter
Lively and well-bred for her age,
Have I, the father, written this.
Tycho Brahe’s Daughter’s Epitaph
Tycho Brahe’s Daughter’s Epitaph

Preaching at the Centre
With the Lutheran teaching as a point of departure far greater attention was directed at the interpretation of the texts in the bible, i.e. the preaching. The sermon of the priest was not unknown in the Catholic Church, but in the Lutheran church the sermon became the main attraction. It can be said that the service space was moved from the altar to the pulpit.
A visible sign of this was that new and expensive pulpits were installed. There are a number of these still in existence and they can bee seen in the churches from the 16th and 17th centuries in the Sound region.
The Preaching
The Preaching
Lund´s Pulpit
Lund´s Pulpit
Petri Pulpit
Petri Pulpit
St. Mary Pulpit in Helsingborg
St. Mary Pulpit in Helsingborg

New Organs
Diderich Buxtehude followed his father’s footsteps and became the organist in the Maria Church in Helsingborg. In 1660 he applied for and got the organist post in Elsinore´s Maria Church. Probably because this post was better paid and by taking it he came closer to the rest of his family. In the time up to 1668, where he went to Lübeck to apply for a post there, he lived in the same house as his mother and father. The house still stands.
Simultaneously the old Lorenz organs were modernized in a modern Baroque style, a style, which was represented musically by Diderich Buxtehude. The German organ builder did the modernization and he was the man behind the building and rebuilding of organs in Copenhagen, Elsinore, Halmstad, Helsingborg, Landskrona and Malmo.
Diderich Buxtehude experienced and participated in a very active renewal of the music scene through the new building, which was made. Two years after he had moved to Elsinore he came back to Helsingborg to supervise the rebuilding of the organ in the Maria Church. This indicates that the Swedish takeover in Scania in 1658 did not affect the music scene right away.
The Maria Church in Helsingborg
The Maria Church in Helsingborg
Saint Anne Street in Elsinore
Saint Anne Street in Elsinore
The Old Organ
The Old Organ
Buxtehude
Buxtehude
Choir Organ in the Mariakyrkan (Church of St, Mary)
Choir Organ in the Mariakyrkan (Church of St, Mary)

©  Øresundstid 2009